Oz shifts into parks

Pols rush to reopen wild areas for filming

SYDNEY — The New South Wales government rushed a bill into parliament Wednesday to empower the National Parks & Wildlife Service to issue film permits after a court ruling halted filming on Columbia actioner “Stealth” last week.

NSW Premier Bob Carr said the legislation will enable filmmakers to shoot in national parks, subject to strict conditions.

The government acted after the Land & Environment Court halted “Stealth,” shooting in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, on the grounds that it would endanger the environment (Daily Variety, April 30).

The $100 million “Stealth,” directed by Rob Cohen, shifted to another location and is due to complete its 78-day shoot Down Under in two weeks.

The bill would give the minister for the environment the power to authorize the making of a film within national parks, subject to conditions.

“The legislation means that when a film comes here we can set them up in a national park subject to tight conditions,” Carr said. “They know there’s not going to be an argument that diverts them into court when they want to be out shooting.”

“We’re very grateful to the government for acting so quickly to ensure certainty of location access for both international and the local film industry,” said Trisha Rothkrans, chief exec of Ausfilm, the industry body that markets Oz as a production destination.

However, the bill is not assured passage through parliament, as it’s opposed by members of local environmentalist group the Greens Party and other independents, who hold the balance of power.

Rothkrans urged the parliament to support the bill, arguing, “The legislation is urgently needed to eliminate uncertainty. Without it, every future film in a national park will have a legal cloud over it.”